Tourism numbers higher at village, despite economyDespite flooding, weather and the national economy, 77,269 visitors from all the states except Delaware have poured through the gates of Frontier Village this season. Nina Sneider, executive director of Buffalo City Tourism, said there were 24 percent more visitors to Frontier Village in the last two weeks of May through most of June than at the same time last year. Now, the increase in visitors over the end of July last year is 7.3 percent.
By: By Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Despite flooding, weather and the national economy, 77,269 visitors from all the states except Delaware have poured through the gates of Frontier Village this season.
Nina Sneider, executive director of Buffalo City Tourism, said there were 24 percent more visitors to Frontier Village in the last two weeks of May through most of June than at the same time last year. Now, the increase in visitors over the end of July last year is 7.3 percent.
“There’s a real marked increase in foreign tourists this year and a lot more Canadian travelers too,” Sneider said.
Considering that last year included the weeklong 125th Anniversary Celebration of Jamestown in early July, the 7.3 percent increase in visitors this year has been even more remarkable, she said.
“We even had them coming in the dead of winter,” Sneider said. “And most of the people I visited with knew we’ve had flooding and didn’t seem to be bothered by it.”
Felicia Sargeant, director of the National Buffalo Museum, called the number of museum visitors in 2008 “phenomenal” and doesn’t think this year will match it. By the end of July 2008, 14,000 visitors had paid to go through the museum. She credits the birth of a third white buffalo and the 125th for the high number and said 2007 was a more accurate comparison.
“We’re 15 percent ahead of the same time in 2007,” she said
However, since January of this year 12,870 people have gone through the museum and generally the best months for attendance are early fall.
“Right now we’re only 9 percent behind 2008,” she said. “So we’re again looking at over 20,000 people for the year.”
This will be the third year visitors to the museum topped 20,000. It wasn’t that many years ago when 12,000 visitors were considered the norm, Sargeant said. She believes the increase in visitors is probably due to advertising — the museum’s and Buffalo City Tourism’s.
Frontier Village Manager Tina Busche also credits advertising with the increased number of visitors.
“We’ve had a lot of traffic from out of state and out of country, I think because there’s more publicity this year,” she said. “We’ve been busy and we love it.”
The village has been adding activities and events through the summer, she said, and she plans to continue them.
“We’re looking forward to keeping it even busier up here next year,” she said.
Fort Seward hasn’t seen much of an increase this summer, said Steve Reidburn, who oversees activity there. The site houses the military history of Fort Seward in an interpretive center, Flags Across America and the Veteran’s Memorial Wall and Walk.
“Visitors to the interpretive center are about average or down from last year,” he said. “But I’d say visitation at the Memorial Wall and the flag are up. We’re seeing more veteran-type people than history buffs this year.”
The only real way of knowing how many have visited the site is if they sign the guest book. So far only 759 have done so, according to Tom Norman, who works in the interpretive center. Figuring two visitors for each vehicle over the car counter, about 5,300 have actually been to the site since Memorial Day.
“We are planning to put a sign down by the walk asking people to stop in and sign the guest book,” Reidburn said.
Last year was also big for Fort Seward. The dedication of the Memorial Wall on the Fourth of July during the 125th Anniversary Celebration brought thousands more to the site. Each year, Reidburn said, the Fort Seward group tries to add to the site. It’s working on delineating the officer’s quarters and blacksmith’s shop in the grass and adding appropriate signage.
“People should come up and take a look. It’s looking more and more like a park,” he said. “We try to do a little more each year and appreciate the support of people who do go up there.”
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at email@example.com